Spend a little time with the newest version of the Audi A8 and you begin to wonder what can be thought of next by the makers of large luxury sedans.
This car is absolutely loaded in virtually every way you could assess it: performance, luxury, safety and technology.
Audi has made the A8 larger, adding to its length by three inches and its width by two inches. As a result, the interior is even more comfortable.
The powerplant has been beefed up, too, with the 4.2-liter V-8 engine cranking out 372 horsepower, which is 22 higher than the previous generation. Audi says the 0-60 mph time for this model is less than 5.7 seconds - astounding for a car this size.
The engine is linked to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, and the Quattro all-wheel drive system is standard.
Fuel economy has improved by about 15 percent, to 17 mpg city, 27 highway.
If you really want to examine the performance aspects, you can check out the adjustable driving modes, which include comfort, dynamic, auto and individual, the latter allowing you to personalize your preferences in transmission, suspension and steering.
As for safety, the A8 offers eight airbags, antilock brakes and electronic stability control with traction control as standard features. Optional are the blind-spot warning, night-vision and lane departure-warning systems. Adaptive cruise control is also offered, allowing the car to sense potential collisions and begin braking to reduce the impact.
Besides all of its great engineering, the A8 offers fun aspects, too.
The rear seat entertainment system features dual 10-inch screens and a DVD player.
The Bang & Olufsen stereo with 19 channels and 19 speakers and more than 1,400 watts of power makes you feel like you are listening in a recording studio.
There's a panorama sunroof that is functional as well as decorative. It can convert sunlight into electricity and generate energy to run a ventilator that allows fresh air to reach the cabin.
The seats are 18-way power, heated and cooled, with Alcantara leather. But that's not enough. There is also a massage function. The driver and front passenger can get a rubdown on the upper, mid or lower back. And it feels pretty doggone good.
On the outside, Audi continues to convert its vehicles' headlights to the stylish pearl-necklace type of LED lights that originated on the R8 supercar. LEDs are now used on low beams, high beams, signals, markers and cornering lights. Audi says the cornering lights can be controlled by the navigation system, which informs the lighting controller in anticipation of turns.
Audi's Multi Media Interface system provides the car with a high level of intelligence.
One example: we were running a little low on fuel, so the car asked if we would like some suggestions of where nearby fuel stations are, then provided a list.
This car, clearly, is not for those who are financially challenged. Prices start around $79,000 and range to about $87,000.
But with all this, who needs an entertainment system at home, or a masseuse?